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How dash cameras impact your car insurance

A dashboard-mounted camera (or “dash cam”) won’t typically lower the cost of your auto insurance automatically. Almost no U.S. auto insurers offer a direct discount for installing a dash cam, but having one in your car could still have positive payoffs. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team looked into the technology and put together a list of things to consider before investing in a dash cam.

Do dash cams impact your car insurance?

Not directly. As of 2024, the only U.S. insurer to advertise a direct dash cam car insurance discount is a small Ohio-based insurance startup named Branch Insurance, which announced a partnership with Nextbase Dash Cams in 2021.

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Dash cams function as a form of surveillance as well as a safe and convenient way to capture on-road footage for personal or artistic purposes. In general, having one won’t directly impact your auto insurance rates — either positively or negatively.

What does a dash cam record?

A dash cam can record video footage of the view through your front windshield or rear window. Depending on your camera and settings, a dash cam can also record your vehicle’s interior, as well as sound and speed.

The footage is typically recorded on a loop — old footage is continuously replaced with new footage as your camera’s SD card fills up. The length of the recording loop depends on the SD card capacity, which usually ranges from 8 GB to as much as 512 GB. Dash cams can record as long as they have power. While some cameras will only record while the car is powered on, it’s possible to set up a dash cam that’s hardwired for 24/7 power, allowing it to record footage while the vehicle is parked and powered off.

Possible insurance benefits of installing a dash cam

While having a dash cam won’t lower insurance directly in most cases, these devices can still positively impact your insurance in a number of ways.

Having a record of your accident

The claims process following an accident can be drawn out thanks to the difficulty of proving exactly what happened. In a typical claim without a dash cam, you’ll have to provide a verbal statement of what happened, along with any photographs you might have taken at the scene. Claims specialists will compare that statement with the statements of other drivers and witnesses and the police report. In many cases, nailing down the exact events leading to a crash — and identifying who was at fault — can take a lot of time and resources.

If you had a dash cam that recorded footage of the accident and the moments leading up to it, the video evidence could speed up the investigation and lead to a faster claim settlement. Dash cam footage could even protect you from being found partially at fault in an accident that another driver caused. However, if the video reveals any actions you took that contributed to the accident, it could add to your own liability and cost your insurer money.

Fighting insurance fraud

Car insurance fraud is an increasingly common problem that could be reduced by dash cam use. If someone tries to involve you in a staged accident to receive a fraudulent claims payout, the result may be disastrous and might cost you thousands of dollars in legal fees and increased insurance premiums. Having a video record of these events might help clear your name. If you believe you have been involved in car insurance fraud, you will likely want to contact law enforcement and turn over any video evidence you have as soon as possible.

Making you a better driver

Owning a dash cam won’t directly impact the price you pay for car insurance, but becoming a safer driver might. Monitoring your driving with a dash cam could increase your awareness of what’s happening on the road and support defensive driving habits that can help you reduce your risk of accidents.

If you can avoid traffic tickets and car accidents for a few years, many car insurance companies will reward you with a lower rate and potentially a good driver discount. If you’re interested in using technology to save on car insurance, it’s also worth looking into telematics programs, which use mobile apps to monitor driving habits in real time in exchange for potential insurance discounts.

Acting as a security camera

Although car accidents are always a danger while driving, many incidents that damage your car happen while parked. If your car insurance policy includes comprehensive coverage, then incidents that damage your car such as theft, vandalism, falling tree limbs and damage from fires are generally covered.

A dash cam that’s hardwired to record even when your car is off could capture these events and provide video evidence to support your insurance claim.

If you live in rural areas where crossing wildlife can be a hazard, having a dash camera record the moment of impact may also help your insurance claim. Again, to file a claim of this nature, you’ll generally need to have comprehensive coverage in your policy.

Monitoring your teen’s driving

Adding a teen driver to your policy can be an expensive change since statistics show that teenage drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident compared to other age groups. As such, insurance companies generally classify teenage drivers as high-risk motorists and charge a hefty premium to compensate for it.

Although your insurance company won’t necessarily lower your costs just because you have a dash cam in your teen’s car, your teen may be more conscious while driving if they know that they are being monitored. You could watch whether your teenage driver is following traffic laws, speed limits or passenger limits and address any issues before a ticket or accident happens. You may even appreciate the extra peace of mind while your teen is on the road.

Are dash cams worth it?

Although discounts are largely unavailable just for owning a dash camera, the technology might still help you maintain cheaper car insurance rates by protecting you from fraud or influencing you to be a better driver. Additionally, installing a dash camera could assist in the insurance claims process, adding convenience to your insurance experience. On the other hand, some drivers may be distracted by dash cams, which could draw your attention away from the road if you’re looking at or fiddling with the dash cam while driving.

The benefit you might get from a dashboard camera likely depends on the frequency and use of your car, as well as how much you spend on the camera. Generally speaking, a reliable dash cam costs at least $100, with top-of-the-line models running several hundred.

The less-expensive models generally do not have their own screens for viewing, contain no internal battery and have few features other than HD recording. Higher-end models generally come with many features, such as their own screen, extended battery life and built-in GPS. You may want to consider what you want your dash camera to accomplish before purchasing one and make sure it’s running correctly before relying on it for any kind of video evidence.

Frequently asked questions

    • Can you get a discount for having a dash camera?In general, no — U.S. insurance companies typically don’t issue dash cam insurance discounts to customers who install this technology. Despite the potential insurance benefits of having a dash cam, it won’t directly lower your risk of having an accident, and it could even lead to higher costs for your insurer if a dash cam proves that you’re at fault in an accident.

    • Are dash cams legal?Dash cams are legal in the U.S., though each state has its own laws dictating what size of camera is permissible, as well as where and how the camera may be placed and secured.

    • Which dash cams are approved by insurance companies?Because dash cams aren’t tied to any insurance discounts, there’s no specific list of insurance-approved dash cams. If you’re planning to install a dash cam, you can check with your current insurer for any guidance they may have.

    • How much do dash cameras cost?Most dash cams available in commercial markets generally run about $100 to $500. For example, dash cams from industry leader Nextbase run from $80 for the Nextbase 122 to $700 for the AI-powered iQ Smart Dash Cam in 4K resolution.

    • Do you have to tell insurance about a dash cam in your car?There’s no legal requirement to inform your insurance company if you’ve installed a dash cam in your car. Some experts recommend not mentioning your dash cam unless you’ve reviewed footage that you want to use as evidence in a claim.